Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Space Jockey's Story

I've read that director Ridley (Robin Hood) Scott is planning to revisit the Alien franchise, which he started, with a couple of prequels. I'm up for that! His original film is still the best in the series, with James Cameron's Aliens a close second.

Considering how the franchise has deteriorated, it's time for someone to take hold of the story, and who better than Ridley Scott. He has said in recent interviews that he is planning to tell what happened to the Space Jockey (aka The Pilot), the giant corpse with a hole in its ribs, found by the investigating crew members of the Nostromo in the first film.

Since these prequels will tell a back-story thirty years before the original film, Ellen Ripley, the xenomorph-blasting heroine played by Sigourney Weaver, will not be in the picture. The Company, on the other hand, will be featured. So you can bet there will be some evil suits plotting something dastardly. Hopefully, Scott will introduce a new hero or heroine to battle the hordes of slimy space bugs.

Scott says to look for the first of the prequels to hit theaters toward the end of next year.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Did you notice the big controversy that erupted with the release of the R-rated super-hero film "Kick-Ass" from UK director Matthew (Layer Cake) Vaughn? Famous film critic Roger Ebert gave it one star and a big fat thumbs down for being "morally reprehensible" due to the movie's portrayal of an 11-year old girl as a ruthless superhero assassin.

With such a brouhaha, I couldn't wait to see it! So, when my son Dave invited my wife and me to a matinee, I jumped. And found Kick-Ass quite entertaining!

To sum up the main plot, Hit Girl (who steals the show) is on a mission, with her father Big Daddy (played by the ever watchably nutty Nic Cage), to take down a local crime boss who was responsible for the death of her mother.

As for Roger Ebert's objections, the movie is clearly a cartoon style revenge flick much like Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill where a female hero slays a legion of evil men in her quest for the Big Bad Guy.

Have we ever seen a young girl character in a movie like this?

In discussing Kick-Ass afterward with my son Dave, he said it reminded him of the excellent anime film Princess Mononoke, a mythical saga about preserving the elemental spirit of nature, which features a young girl as the fierce killing machine that will stop at nothing to achieve her goal of defending the forest from those who would destroy it.

Though Kick-Ass is a hoot of an action flick, there is more going on. For me, the film is saying something profound about the shaping influence that Fathers have on their Children. By the end of the film, both the crime boss and Big Daddy have "birthed" super-hero children who may come back in sequels to do battle again.

Friday, April 9, 2010

RoboCop and Jesus

Dutch filmmaker Paul Verhoeven, director of such films as RoboCop, Total Recall, and Black Book, has recently revealed a long-standing interest in the life and meaning of Jesus Christ. A student of the Jesus Seminars since 1987, Verhoeven has co-written and published a book called Jesus of Nazareth, published by Seven Stories Press.

Today, on the Leonard Lopate radio show, I heard an interview with Verhoeven where he talked about the book and his interest in Jesus.

Lopate asked him about the resurrection angle in RoboCop. Verhoeven confirmed it, saying that his wife helped him to see it in the script: Murphy is killed, then brought back to life as half-man/half-machine who later reclaims his humanity.

Asked if he has plans to make a movie based on his book about Jesus, Verhoeven said maybe. If he were to do one, it would not be like the Mel Gibson film, The Passion of the Christ, which stressed the arrest, torture, and crucifixion that Jesus suffered.

For Verhoeven, focusing on "the passion" misses the point of Jesus' life and message. I for one would be very interested in Verhoeven's take on this.

Posted April 9, 2010

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Garcia, Oates, and Peckinpah

My son Kevin came home the other day with a bag of dvds of old films from the Seventies, including two by legendary director Sam Peckinpah: The Killer Elite and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.

While The Killer Elite has a good cast (including Robert Duvall, James Caan, Mako, Gig Young, Arthur Hill, and Burt Young), it's an odd misfire. On the other hand, the 1974 film Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, starring the under-rated Warren Oates as Bennie, was something else. All I can say is that it's an over-looked Peckinpah masterpiece.

Though flawed, it's a fascinating story of evil, greed, love and revenge, featuring a terrific cast headed by Oates, with excellent support from Isela Vega, Robert Webber, and Gig Young.

Wearing annoying sunglasses for most of the film, Oates is a revelation. Several scenes were jaw dropping; for example, the bedroom scene where he pours booze on his crotch; the graveyard scene where he cracks up; and later scenes where he and "Al" (the severed head) bond and become partners.

My only serious objection is that the ending should have been a final scene between Bennie and Al, instead of a hail of gunfire. Imagine the bullet-riddled Bennie, a breath away from dying, turning to the blood-soaked head and saying, "We killed that son-of-a-bitch, Al. We killed him."

Oates should have won an Oscar that year for Best Actor. He and beautiful co-star Vega are amazing together.